I know I had previously described God as suddenly not seeming to be around. Here one moment, and gone the next. But that isn’t exactly an accurate description. God’s departure from my life was not an abrupt event that caught me off-guard. No, instead God just gradually faded, in the same fashion that the colors of a beautifully adorned temple gradually fade away after being exposed to the elements for a millennia or two.
Faith, like willpower, is a finite resource. You can lean on it to keep you propped up when all you want to do is fall. You can draw strength from it to keep you marching forward, regardless of how treacherous the terrain. However there are limitations to how far faith can carry you. In my experience I have found that sooner or later most of us need a break in the action. We need a chance to catch our breath. To recharge our batteries. But if fate so chooses to be relentless in it’s assault, that faith that you so desperately relied on to keep you going gets depleted down to fumes. Once that occurs, it becomes difficult to get any real sense that God is around.
Please allow me for a moment to make this disclaimer. I know I keep saying we, us, our, as in plural. But what I am talking about here is really only about my own personal experience in the matter. I wouldn’t dare to sit here and proclaim that what I experience is what some of my atheist friends have experience, or other folks that have dealt with matters of faith. That my friends would be nothing more than a gross over generalization on my part.
I’ve meet people that stopped believing in God but never suffered a crisis of faith. I know others that just never believed in him in the first place. For these folks there never was a sense of ever being let down by God. There was never any animosity. God just became an antiquated idea that no longer served a practical propose in their world. Others just saw the complete lunacy that organized religion sometimes stands for. I have come to know folks that saw God much like the the Wizard of Oz; nothing more than an elaborate prop used to control and manipulate the poor, the uneducated, and women. They refuse to believe in something that does not promote the advancement of knowledge, or whose followers dare to proclaim their superiority over others just because they want to apply 1st Century writings into 21st Century logic.
Then there are those on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve meet people whose entire existence has been nothing more than one drawn out battle. They have had mounds, after mounds, after mounds, of shit just flung on them by life. Who have been kicked and spat on, repeatedly by a world that treats the weak and the voiceless with utter contempt. These admirable people carry their cross in quiet dignity and never once doubted God’s existence. They take pride in their love for God. And although they might find themselves questioning his methods, not once have they ever questioned his purpose.
I have nothing but admiration for both camps. They are resolute in their belief and for that I respect them. Because at least they believe in something. Unlike me. I want to believe in God very desperately, but I dont feel his presence anywhere. I want to believe that there is a greater plan. That all the pain and struggles that I have experienced, and that my family seems to have endured for well over a century isn’t just because of random dumb luck. But there more I look into the matter the more I see that everything that has happened to us is a simple matter of cause and effect; a sprinkle of bad decisions, laced with a lack of understanding, and drenched in a whole lot of poverty. So my belief stay stranded in limbo. They are neither here nor there.
I want my life to mean something. To do something that makes a difference. To somehow leave my mark. And it has nothing to do with being rich or famous, because in my eyes, those are completely meaningless aspiration when weighed against the grand scheme of things. My goals are much more modest. All I want is to feel, real, honest to god joy. To be a decent family man. The kind of man that the wifey can look up too with pride. I want to stop feeling afraid of failing. To trust in my ability to persevere. And most of all I want to someday soon be a good loving father that will do for his children what no man has done in my family for generations. And if I had a sense that God was still around, I might actually trust that these things are all yet possible for me.
So I pray up to God, and I ask him to give me the strength that I so desperately need. To infuse my spirit with confidence. To give me a sign that he is still there, and is listening to my prayers. That I am not alone in my journey. I call out to him from time to time, but I get no reply. I don’t feel his presence. All I feel is a big dark void. I feel nothing. And it causes me to ponder, if God ever was there in the first place. Was I just praying to myself all those years ago. Was there anyone ever really listening? Did I credit him for things that I purely did on my own? And if so, then how do I fool myself into believing again, so that I may get over these hurdles that are keeping me from reaching the mountain top? Maybe I should have been placing faith in myself all along. I don’t know. Just understand that I am no a blasphemer. I’m just a dude looking to believe in the invisible man in the sky.